Sharing Your Stories, Your History
Since 1987, March has been recognized nationally as Women's History Month and our country commemorates and celebrates the vital role women have played in American history.
Every month of the year, each one of us creates our own history, and those histories grow with age. Elder friends and family members have many stories that encompass personal and general history. When shared, these stories become invaluable gifts that teach and guide, build connections, and entertain.
Here are some ways to share life experiences with one another and keep your history alive through time.
- Oral storytelling has been part of preserving history for thousands of years. When we tell others about experiences we’ve had, that history is carried forward to others. Collections of memories are preserved. When gathering with family or friends, there is nothing more fun than sharing a story from the past that brings smiles to the faces in the room. When you gather, think about what brought you there. Do you wonder about a similar occasion from the past? Ask the older person in your group what they recall. If you remember a similar occasion, tell others about it.
- A story-gathering interview can be the main reason you gather. Prepare before you meet. Ask the person you’d like to interview if they’re interested in such a project communicate your intentions for the stories you wish to collect and obtain full consent to do so. Prepare several questions in advance and make sure the first question or two are simple so there is time to warm-up. Be flexible in the direction your conversation will go. If someone seems uncomfortable with a question, respectfully move on to another. Express gratitude for participation and consider giving a small gift to the person you interview.
- Audio or video record the stories as they are shared. Easily accessed tools, such as smart phones and tablets, make creating videos and voice recordings easy to capture, preserve, and share. With the push of a few buttons, voices and scenes are preserved forever and give future generations a deeper and more fascinating record of the stories that are told.
- Writing stories, on paper or in electronic format, creates a record of experiences in your own words. The practice of daily journaling is a way to build a treasure trove of details about your life and thoughts. The weather or current events from your point of view are interesting possibilities to add to a journal, as well.
- Create a memory book. This is like journaling but incorporates objects. When photographs, news clippings, recipes of favorite foods, or pressed flowers from your garden accompany written stories, the experience of reliving, sharing, and learning is enriched.
During Nation Women’s History Month, as we acknowledge the roles both big and small that women everywhere play in our lives, we hope you gather, remember, and share experiences from your own life and the lives of the people around you. Every person’s life is a collection of stories worth saving and a history worth sharing.